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12 Things Great Leaders Don’t Do

12 Things Great Leaders Don’t Do

Great leaders are known for their vision, their ability to make tough decisions and inspire their staff. But what does this mean in practice? Here are 12 things great leaders never do.

1. They don’t put things off

A famous example of a leader who procrastinated during the American Civil War was General McClellan. Nothing was quite ready. This cost the nation thousands of lives and Abraham Lincoln had no choice but to sack the General.

A real leader knows when to make decisions and to take appropriate action. They also know that keeping all options open is a sign of weakness.

2. They don’t listen enough.

If a leader is not prepared to listen actively, then there’s something wrong. Many so-called leaders are so confident of their infallibility that they never really listen. They also make a pretence of listening which may result in a premature assessment and poor decisions. The result is they lose their employees’ trust, confidence, and loyalty.

Successful leaders know how to listen with empathy. They are also willing to answer questions, clarify issues, and respond to concerns.

3. They don’t sit back and relax

Many leaders seem to be satisfied with achieving moderate success and take it easy, once certain objectives have been reached. The founder of IKEA, Ingvar Kamprad, once said, ‘The most dangerous poison is the feeling of achievement. The antidote is to every evening think what can be done better tomorrow.’ The intelligent leader knows that striving for better results and greater success is the key to a successful business.

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4. They don’t know how to communicate

Many managers fail to inspire their colleagues. They lack the skills in communicating the company’s vision, policies and strategies to their employees. The result is that teams work badly.

Great leaders spend some time in organizing what they need to communicate and the best way of doing it clearly. They know that this time is well spent and will pay off handsomely in the long run. They also realize the potential of multi communication platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Linked In to maximize contact.

5. They don’t know how to delegate

When poor leaders do not know the strengths and skills of each team member, they find it practically impossible to delegate.

Proper assessment of each member’s abilities is the key to successful delegation. Staff feel involved and valued.

6. Their values don’t reflect the company’s ethics

All too often, ineffectual leaders do not share the values and company’s ethics wholeheartedly. No surprise to learn that their teams lack inspiration and are satisfied with mediocrity.

The most successful leaders are totally convinced about their company’s values and are committed 100% to following these through in their business relations. There is total transparency in their staff assessments, business dealings and their hiring and firing.

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7.  They don’t view setbacks negatively

‘Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.’- Henry Ford.

Uninspiring leaders are often fearful of obstacles and this may very well delay their decisions and affect their action plans negatively.

Dealing with setbacks and obstacles is no stranger to the successful leader. He steers clear of those colleagues who were cautious and can now say that they knew X would happen because of Y. He will never play the blame game, either with himself or his staff.

The Harvard Business Review recommends that the successful leader refocuses on his/her goals because now is the time to accelerate again after assessing any fallout. They mention Donald Trump who failed not once, but twice in his casino enterprises. That did not daunt him from becoming a leading estate developer and producer.

8. They are not emotionally intelligent

Many business leaders and executives display an astounding ignorance or a lack of awareness of emotional intelligence. They are not even aware of EI and what it involves. They fail to realize the damage done by not being able to control their emotions. They fly off the handle at the slightest provocation and they are socially inept. They shout and criticize people openly and they do not make any effort at all to hide negative and harmful emotions. Staff morale plummets and there is a fearful and threatening atmosphere.

Successful leaders know how to control their emotions and they are calm in a crisis. They are also aware of their staff’s moods and emotions when faced with setbacks and know how to praise and encourage them, whether things go well or badly. This is the atmosphere where motivation will thrive and positive staff relations will soar. Learning how to resolve conflict and improve communication will help any business to flourish. You can only do that by being emotionally intelligent.

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9. They don’t see the value of feedback

Everyone craves praise and recognition after a job which has required effort, thought, dedication, patience, and sweat. Poor leaders tend to be mean with praise but also cannot be bothered to give constructive feedback.

The best leaders know when a person needs help and they will care enough to give the help and encouragement needed for success. If it is done helpfully, it can transform a mediocre employee into a high performing one.

10. They don’t think outside the box

Poor leaders tend to micro manage and oversee every little detail. This stifles creativity in their employees.

Brilliant leaders know how much leeway and responsibility they can give their employees, without ever having to supervise and suffocate. The results will speak for themselves and employees will respect you for the confidence you showed in them.

‘It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.’ – Nelson Mandela.

11. They don’t seek advice

Weak leaders always want to display how much they know and how they are on top of the job. This means, in reality, that they rarely seek the advice of colleagues because they are so intent on maintaining their position of authority.

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Wise leaders know instinctively that their employees can be a source of inspiration, ideas, and even sound advice. They know that they need to learn too.

12. They don’t see the value of excellence

‘Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.’ –Steve Jobs

Simply put, great leaders are dedicated to excellence in everything they do. This can range from innovation, staff relations, communications, goal setting, giving feedback and making tough decisions. The pursuit of excellence is the simplest way to describe great leadership.

Let us know in the comments how you have benefited from working with a great leader.

Featured photo credit: Leadership= Vision/Celestine Chua via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on July 27, 2020

How to Find Your Entrepreneurial Passion and Purpose

How to Find Your Entrepreneurial Passion and Purpose

I wrote a few articles about starting a business based on something you love doing and are passionate about. I received several responses from people saying they weren’t sure how to go about figuring out what they were most passionate about or how to find their true purpose. So I’m dedicating this article to these issues — how to find your entrepreneurial passion and purpose.

When I work with a new client, the first thing we talk about is lifestyle design. I ask each client, “What do you want your life to look like?” If you designed a business without answering this question, you could create a nice, profitable business that is completely incompatible with your goals in life. You’d be making money, but you’d probably be miserable.

When you’re looking for your life purpose, lifestyle design isn’t a crucial component. However, since we’re talking about entrepreneurial purpose, lifestyle design is indeed crucial to building a business that you’ll enjoy and truly be passionate about.

For example, say you want to spend more time at home with your family. Would you be happy with a business that kept you in an office or out of town much of the time? On the flip side, if you wanted to travel and see the world, how well could you accomplish that goal if your business required your presence, day in and day out, to survive? So start by getting some clarity on your personal goals and spend some time working on designing your life.

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At this point, you may need a little prodding, and you may want to hire a coach or mentor to work with you through this process. Many people are very used to the idea that there is a particular way a life “should” be. There are certain milestones most people tend to live by, and if you don’t meet those markers when or in the manner you’re “supposed” to meet them, that can cause some anxiety.

Here’s how to find your passion and purpose:

Give Yourself Permission to Dream a Little

Remember that this is your life and you can live it however you choose. Call it meditation or fantasy, but let your imagination run here. And answer this question:

“If you had no fears or financial limitations, what would your ideal life, one in which you could be totally content and happy, look like?”

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Once you’ve figured out your lifestyle design, it’s time to do a little more soul-searching to figure out what you’re truly passionate about. This is a time to really look within and look back.

Specifically, look back over your life history. When were you the happiest? What did you enjoy doing the most? Remember that what you’re looking for doesn’t necessarily have to be an entire job, but can actually be aspects of your past jobs or hobbies that you’ve really enjoyed.

Think About a Larger Life Purpose

Many successful entrepreneurs have earned their place in history by setting out to make a difference in the world. Is there a specific issue or cause that is important to you or that you’re particularly passionate about?

For some, this process of discovery may come easily. You may go through these questions and thought experiments and find the answers quickly. For others, it may be more difficult. In some cases, you may suffer from a generalized lack of passion and purpose in your life.

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Sometimes, this can come from having suppressed passion in your life for too long. Sometimes, it can come from eating poorly and lack of exercise. But occasionally, it may have something to do with your internal chemistry or programming. If the latter applies to you, it may be useful for you to seek help in the form of a coach, mentor, or counselor.

In other cases, not knowing your true purpose may be a matter of having not discovered it yet: you may not have found anything that makes your heart beat faster. If this is the case, now is the time to explore!

The Internet is a fantastic tool for learning and exploration. Search hobbies and careers and learn as much as you can about any topic that triggers your interest, then follow up at the library on the things that really intrigue you. Again, remember that this is your life and only you can give yourself permission to explore all that the world has available to you.

How Do You Know When You’ve Found Your True Entrepreneurial Purpose?

I can only tell you how I knew when I had discovered my own — it didn’t hit me like a ton of bricks. Rather, it settled over me, bringing a deep sense of peace and commitment. It felt like I had arrived home and knew exactly what to do and how to proceed.

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Everything flowed easily from that point forward. That’s not to say that I found success immediately after that moment. But rather, the path ahead of me was clear, so I knew what to do.

Decisions were easier and came faster to me. And success has come on MY terms, according to my own definitions of what success means to me in my own lifestyle design.

Dig deep, look within, and seek whatever help you need. Once you find that purpose and passion, your life — not just your entrepreneurial life, but your entire life — will never be the same.

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Featured photo credit: Garrhet Sampson via unsplash.com

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